Spam, with a Side of Spam


After watching this video, the word spam has been stuck in my head all afternoon. The continuous, repetitive use of the word annoys viewers to hell and back us, but we remember it. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that this particular Monty Python skit has led to ‘unsolicited online communications’ becoming known as spam (Rao & Reiley, 2012).

I have often wondered how and why spam mail still exists. As far as I know, no-one reads or pays attention to it. Yet, it must somehow be profitable in order for the practice to survive. Mike Grunch, tech writer at LuxContinental, explains in this article that spamming is similar to long term TV advertising campaigns. During TV ads, the majority of us usually  turn down the volume or change the channel. We like to think that we are ignoring them, however, we still catch glimpses of the visuals and hear snippets of the audio. If the same brands continue to advertise through this medium over a long period of time while we continue to watch TV,  the message and recognition of the brand begins to burrow into our memory banks, forming a ‘conditional reflex’.

Similarly, while we think we are paying no heed to each spam message, in actual fact a conditional reflex is being formed each time we read the email subject before deciding to delete it. From doing this we develop an idea of what is being advertised.  Spammers hope that one day the receiver  may need the product/service and will open the unsolicited message to learn more.

This marketing practice is made viable due to low operating costs and the difficulty regulators have in tracing and penalising perpetrators, whom are often based across jurisdictional boundaries.

The bad news continues…. Spam no longer only comes in the email variety but is now disguised in an assortment of flavours and styles. These include internet pop-ups, instant messaging spam,  blog comment spam and internet forum spam. The concept of spam encapsulates any unsolicited and undesirable online communication (Rao and Reiley, 2012).

For those of you who blog, you may have noticed spam rearing its ugly heads in your comments section. I find this especially frustrating as comment spam not only degrades a blog’s quality, but also leads to Google penalising the blog’s web ranking. looks deeper into this concern and provides a number of suggestions as to how bloggers can fight the evil spam. To learn more read- How Spamming Can Affect your Blog Rank.

Although spamming may be a low cost form of advertising for brands, it is society which must pay, by way of lost productivity and use of resources spent on dealing with problem. Therefore this  practice should be labelled as unethical and an unadvisable form of digital marketing for any brand.